We appreciate the Office of Juvenile Justice’s decision, as the safety and wellbeing of children should be its top priority. The State should not be taking children from their homes and communities if they cannot keep them safe and provide appropriate services. Louisiana is at a critical moment in youth justice. It is time for the State to recognize and acknowledge that the current systems do not work and, in actuality, cause great harm to children. This is a moment for us as a State to turn away from relying on counter-productive prisons for children, and create community based alternatives. With all the recent news regarding failures within secure care and detention facilities, transparency is more important now than ever. We urge OJJ to continue communicating about its capacity and plans to provide for children in its care.
Additionally, we urge judges to consider their roles in this crisis. There are far too many children in Louisiana’s youth prisons. Judges must act swiftly in reducing the youth prison population by approving modifications and identifying the least restrictive options for all children as the law mandates.
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